Top 5 Tilda Swinton movies — have you seen them all?

Only Lovers Left Alive dir. Jim Jarmusch 2013

With some exciting projects on the way, let's consider the very best Tilda Swinton movies.

There's no doubt that she's one of the most unique and talented actresses working today; for proof, look no further than these terrific Tilda Swinton movies. She began a screen career in the mid-eighties and has since starred in so many diverse and intriguing projects. There's still plenty more on the horizon though, with performances in such forthcoming efforts as The Dead Don't Die and Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch we're yet to enjoy. 

Glancing over her eclectic career, it's been hard to narrow down a selection of work which best captures her winning range. Swinton is a performer who has proven time and time again that no role is off limits, and has impressed in just about every one of them. So, let's dive straight into our list of the best Tilda Swinton movies. 

The Beach (dir. Danny Boyle, 2000)

Whenever director Danny Boyle comes into conversation, there will always be one to confess that their favourite film of his is The Beach. It'll be met with a few laughs, but as they explain you can't help but reflect back on some of its finer moments. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a backpacker in Thailand searching for something new and inspiring; an age-old story with a twist. 

Due to unforeseen circumstances, he - along with some accompanying faces - discovers a secret community on an island hidden away from the tourist traps he's grown to loathe. Mingling with the group there, it quickly becomes apparent that Sal (Swinton) is the leader, but her faith in Richard is tested over the course of the narrative until the tranquillity of their idyllic life is threatened entirely. She's great in the role, as is DiCaprio, and together with the beautiful locations, nostalgic soundtrack and engaging story, it's often a sadly overlooked film of all three aforementioned figures' oeuvres. 

Burn After Reading (dir. Joel & Ethan Coen, 2008)

Swinton was just one of the talented performers taking a gamble on the Coen brothers here, but a devoted few will agree that it paid off. Burn After Reading is definitely one of the respected duo's most divisive efforts; it may be the most. It's adored and despised pretty equally, and even those who fall into the former category understand the hostility towards it. 

It's a bumbling comedy in which a bunch of scatter-brained opportunists stumble into a series of increasingly silly scenarios. George Clooney and Brad Pitt play completely against type, both to great effect, and Swinton plays the no-nonsense counterpart to it all. Her character helps offer a great juxtaposition of just how idiotic the rest of the players are, but you can't help but laugh at their totally avoidable situation. It's is one of those rare comedies, and an absolute blast from start to finish. It may even be the Coen's most underrated. 

Okja (dir. Bong Joon-ho, 2017)

Bong Joon-ho has helmed such masterpieces as Memories of Murder and The Host, but Okja is the film which most audiences will associate him with. The film was distributed on Netflix and explores the heartwarming and emotional connection between a young girl and her beloved pet, Okja. 

Audiences admired the film for its commentary and perspective on the meat industry, but there's a lot to enjoy about the film beyond its observations. The performances are great, with Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) and Swinton stealing every scene they're in. If you haven't already, this should definitely be added to your Netflix queue. 

Only Lovers Left Alive (dir. Jim Jarmusch, 2013)

Swinton has recently worked with indie darling Jim Jarmusch yet again in The Dead Don't Die, which sees the director offer his refreshing take on the zombie sub-genre. Before that, he subverted another horror sub-genre in this tale of two reclusive vampires whose lives are disrupted by an unexpected guest. 

As the central couple, Swinton and Tom Hiddleston's chemistry is enchanting; by the time it's finished, you feel as though you're apart of their unbreakable bond. Both are playing it cool - as you'd expect from Jarmusch - but Swinton manages to convey an otherworldly perfection through the character of Eve. The three previous entries on this list capture her ability to play the bad guy, but here, you'll wonder how she could ever alarm a fly, let alone harm it — simply wonderful. 

We Need to Talk About Kevin (dir. Lynne Ramsay, 2011)

Finally, we arrive at what may be the actresses career-crowning performance. Director Lynne Ramsay has achieved staggering central performances from the likes of Joaquin Phoenix (You Were Never Really Here) and Samantha Morton (Morvern Callar), but her work here with Swinton tops it all. 

The film - adapted from a Lionel Shriver novel - centres upon the haunting relationship of a mother and her son. It delves into some very disturbing territory, but the material is all anchored by Swinton's sensational performance. She has never been so harrowing, and people are already beginning to look back on it as a bonafide masterpiece; without such a central presence, we can't imagine it would have the same effect. This is powerful, essential cinema. 

There you have it! There were so many we could have included, but these really are essential viewing experiences. If there are any you haven't seen, be sure to check them out and continue exploring the magnificent career of the one-and-only Tilda Swinton. 

In other news, check out our review for John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum.

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